L.A. County Sheriff’s Official Claims He Didn’t Know He Was Driving a Stolen Luxury Car

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A top-ranking Los Angeles County sheriff’s official bought a stolen luxury sedan last year from the owner of a towing company that contracts with his agency, a Times investigation has found.

Assistant Sheriff Michael J. Rothans is seen in an image from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department website.

Assistant Sheriff Michael J. Rothans is seen in an image from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department website.

Assistant Sheriff Michael Rothans paid $3,000 for the 2012 Audi A4, which had been seized by sheriff’s deputies from a suspected gang member at a drunk-driving checkpoint.

The Sheriff’s Department launched an internal investigation last week after The Times questioned Rothans about his vehicle purchase.

Rothans, the department’s third-ranking official, said he had no idea he was driving a stolen car until more than a year after he purchased it from Lisa Vernola, a longtime friend who owns Vernola’s Towing in Norwalk.

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